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Survivors recollect the tragedy

On the first anniversary of the tsunami, the waves have gone silent and the sea near-tranquil. Tell us your experiences

india Updated: Dec 26, 2005 12:34 IST

On the first anniversary of the killer tsunami, the waves have gone silent and the sea near-tranquil. It was all calm, on the same day last year also, until a mighty wave as high as 40 feet lashed this fishing hamlet in Nagapattinam district at 9.17 am changing the destinies of hundreds of sea farers forever.

Nagapattinam, the worst-hit district in Tamil Nadu alone accounted for 6065 deaths -- around half of the total deaths in the country.

Thirty two year old Muthulatchmi remembers the fateful day when her kids were playing in the open while she was drying fish on the portico of her house. The sea was calm and her husband Selvaraj had already set out into it.

She remembers a huge wall of water rise suddenly from the placid sea before it hit the village with a ferocious intensity. She struggled in the water for almost a minute while it pushed her into the house.

"The waters receded with the same speed in which it came. I clung on to the window pane as the waves washed everything inside my house out to the sea," she remembers.

However, the tragedy was yet to unfold in front of Muthulatchmi. She later knew that one of her kids, Murugan (6) -- was lapped up by the sea. Three days later the dead body of her husband was washed on to the shore.

The past one year had been a real ordeal for her as she had to take care of her only surviving daughter Meenatchi (4) besides herself. Though she still lives in a humid and leaking temporary shelter in Akkaraipettai, she is thankful to the district administration for speedy grant of compensation and for providing her a livelihood by giving her training in soap manufacturing through Self Help Groups.

First Published: Dec 26, 2005 02:40 IST